As I write this, it is on the keyboard of my laptop — the external one that I use was ruined when I spit out my coffee laughing out loud a few minutes ago. I was reading the online edition of the Raleigh News and Observer, and came across local raconteur Barry Saunders’ column defending his beloved son Wesley.
It was the usual stuff, father taking son’s side, and probably deservedly so — Wesley Saunders had been accused by some fans at last week’s game of kicking a Wolfpack player, and Saunders asked some local reporters to interpret whether or not the “incident” actually occurred. They said no, and Saunders wrote that. Why it is anything beyond self-interest escapes me, that is, unless Saunders was up to his usual trick of trying to rile up NC State fans. He’s a master of that, given his history through the years of stretching the truth to and sometimes past the breaking point when it comes to matters concerning NC State and its fans. There, Saunders is a one-trick pony and he dips once again into his bottomless barrel of ink to refill his poison pen – and this time, Statefans Nation was indirectly mentioned:
[...] no third-party perspective is going to shut up people who read a Web site with the headline “Barry Saunders’ Son Wants an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty.”
That story prompted one fan with a decent sense of humor — which is what college sports calls for — to write “I wonder if Little Saunders has one of those ridiculously goofy hats like his dad?”
That was me who wrote that on these very pages, in the article entitled “Barry Saunders’ Son Wants an Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty.” And here’s where Ole Barry is up to his usual demagoguery where NC State is concerned: he poses the article I wrote as something that was partisan and colored with bias against South Carolina and his son Wesley. Thing is, the article posted here contained a direct quote from the Little Man himself:
“I’m going to talk to Coach (Steve) Spurrier beforehand and see if he’s OK if I get a 15-yard penalty,” Saunders said. “Because I’m gonna do some sort of extra celebration if I get a touchdown on the Wolfpack.”
That quote was posted by Saunders’ paper’s own Ken Tysiac, both in the ACC Now blog and the Charlotte Observer.
As for SFN’s readers and authors, one can only come to the conclusion that generally speaking we call it like we see it, good, bad or ugly. And when we are wrong, we say we were wrong. I personally think that’s why so many people choose to come here day after day and to participate in the never-ending discussion of all things Wolfpack.
In closing out his column, Saunders goes to his second-favorite pick, cherry-picking the worst comments he can come across to make NC State’s fans look like ignorant louts. That’s one of his favorites, second only to claims of racist voice mails in response to a column he wrote.
“Chill, homes. There was no kick, although if I see some of the more obscene callers, there may be.”
The thing is, I didn’t see the play in question, but I will believe WRAL’s Jeff Gravely if he said that Wesley Saunders never kicked a Wolfpack player. Even if the young man did kick a player in a scrum, I have seen worse acts in every level of football I have ever seen, all the way down to the 8-year old PeeWees that somehow talked their Moms out of playing soccer. Football is a game of emotions, and in a close game like the NC State-USC affair last weekend, tensions can run high and emotions can flare red-hot. Having played the game myself, I have done worse and had worse done to me to boot. Anyone whose ever been at the bottom of a pile after a play can probably tell you tales of spit or fingers in the eye. I won’t even describe for you the tender spots that get punched or worse, bitten.
That’s just football.
So either way, my reaction would have been “so frakking what.” In all honesty, the penalty that wasn’t called that concerned me the most was the blatant facemask by a South Carolina defender — one that could have resulted in a horrible injury to his victim. When the referees didn’t call that, I started looking for their guide-dogs and white canes. Obviously, they were blind. As is Barry Saunders, apparently. He is so blinded by his hate for all things NC State — he is an admitted UNC partisan — that he cannot see that the vast majority of Wolfpack fans are honorable and passionate people who pull for their favorite team with a fervor. That’s respectable in my eyes, while constantly stretching the truth is not, by any means.